Questions of Cash: Corgi's refund takes heat out of HomePlan upset

 

Q. In autumn 2011, Corgi offered us its HomePlan central heating cover, which we paid monthly from November 2011. In spring 2012, it offered to extend the cover to include home electrics, which I agreed to. The policy included an annual central heating service, to be carried out before November each year. I phoned on 29 September 2012 to remind it of this and to request the annual service – we had problems restarting the central heating after it had been switched off for the summer.

I was promised an engineer would contact me, but I heard nothing. I emailed twice and phoned again, but still nothing happened. I then cancelled the direct debit, and a local engineer serviced our system. I requested a refund of the £221.82 paid in premiums to Corgi. Again my correspondence was ignored. I paid £204 to the local engineer for a service that I had paid Corgi for, but which was not provided. PS, Leeds.

A. Corgi HomePlan has refunded the cost of your premiums plus the cost of the service provided by the engineer. You have received a payment of £425.82, which is significantly more than you requested. James Duffie, Corgi HomePlan's customer service director, apologises for the problems. He says: "We pride ourselves on our high level of customer service, but in this case there have clearly been failings both on the part of our appointed engineer and my administration team. I am working closely with my management team to improve communications between the engineers, ourselves and our customers to prevent this situation occurring again."

Q. Three years ago, we bought a fridge-freezer from John Lewis. It has since developed a fault that will cost more to repair than the purchase price of £350. We complained to John Lewis, but the best it will offer is a half-price replacement. It is reasonable to expect a fridge freezer should have a life of well over 10 years – my mother-in-law's freezer has lasted 54 years. Even Liebherr, the manufacturer, was shocked to learn that one of its products had given problems at "such a young age". Are we being unreasonable to demand a free replacement? AW, Sussex.

A. We raised this with John Lewis but it did not improve the offer it had already made. A spokeswoman says: "We have offered the customer a considerable amount towards a replacement fridge-freezer, and have found him a suitable alternative made by the same manufacturer." She said that the retailer was waiting to hear from you as to whether you found the offer acceptable . We offered to take the matter further by contacting Liebherr to discuss the problem, but you did not respond.

Q. Our 21-year-old son signed up with an employment agency, which found him his first job as a postgraduate. He was to be paid £80 a day plus travel costs. He was not told whether the £80 would be gross or net. He was later instructed to sign up with an umbrella company, which meant he had to pay both the employee's and the employer's national insurance contributions, plus a £27.50 weekly administration fee to the umbrella company.

When he finished the work, he requested the promised travel expenses of £50 a week. He was then told these were only a tax deduction as and when he began paying tax. He is unlikely to pay any tax this year. Umbrella companies can flout the rules designed to protect temporary staff by opting for the Swedish Derogation. The umbrella company also included his holiday pay within the £80 a day as "rolled-up pay", which we thought was unlawful. LK, Leicestershire.

A. Problems with employment agencies and umbrella companies can be taken to both HMRC and Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. An Acas spokesman explains: "The Swedish Derogation applies when a temporary work agency can offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment and pay the agency worker between assignments. If no such contract is agreed, agency workers are classed as 'workers' rather than employees, and therefore have a different set of rights.

The Swedish Derogation allows for a temporary work agency to offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment. The agency worker will forgo their right to the same pay as if they had been recruited by the employer directly. In exchange, they establish their employment status as an 'employee' and gain the rights this entails." He adds: "Rolled-up holiday pay is when employers or employment agencies state that the hourly rate of pay includes an element of holiday pay.

This means that employees and agency workers are paid holiday pay within their normal wages throughout the year. An hourly rate of £7.20 might include a sum to cover annual leave. It is advisable that employees are paid holiday pay at the time the employees take their annual leave. There are very specific rules for using rolled up holiday pay." Acas warns that several risks about working for an employment agency should be considered.

The temporary contract is between the worker and the agency. Agency workers generally hold "worker status", limiting their employment rights – they are not entitled to claim redundancy pay or unfair dismissal. The employment agency can terminate the contract at any point, so there is less employment security.

Workers should check if the agreement is for a Swedish Derogation employment, or if employment is as a traditional agency worker. But regardless of the kind of contract, all workers and employees are protected by the national minimum wage provisions and working time legislation. As far as we can tell, what happened to your son does not breach the law. But it is a warning to others in a similar situation.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

    £15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy